Technology Is the Key to Survival


By Robert Teel, Yardi Systems
RealcommAdvisory, Nov. 13, 2008

Commercial property managers face steady pressure to stay ahead of competitors; to grow or diversify their portfolios; to fulfill varying reporting commitments and accounting practices; to satisfy managers, tenants and other stakeholders; and to stay abreast of industry best practices. How can those leaders reconcile so many demands into a coherent business strategy that drives efficiency and profitability?

Much of the answer lies in technology—specifically, advanced business systems that comprise a central element of a strategic business plan. These solutions allow a comprehensive visibility that gives a complete picture of a portfolio, illuminating a path to organizational growth, efficiency and profitability. Heeding property managers’ demands for these advantages, leading software providers consistently deliver innovative solutions that give rise to the next wave of real estate best practices.

How do Internet-based software packages work to commercial property and asset managers’ advantage? They consolidate portfolio, financial, lease and other information into one database. They integrate all factors in the real estate transaction lifecycle, including capital formation, investment management, acquisition and development, leasing and property management, tenant services, portfolio analysis and reporting, valuation, and forecasting. The browser-based, dashboard-driven platform gives all network users instant, secure, real-time access to a single global repository of information from which all of these functions can be performed.

Integration of multiple management systems means that managers’ access to source data is immediate, avoiding the costly, time-consuming process of summoning ledgers and other reports from other data systems. CFOs seeking underlying financial data, for example, can access that information in real time, rather than endure the costly, time-consuming process of requesting ledgers from a separate program.

One of the latest strategic elements in an integrated real estate management solution is portals, which will bring to the commercial industry the ability to extend dynamic access to services and information to external stakeholders such as tenants and residents, prospects, owners and vendors. With its dynamic marketing capability and online resources, portals promise clear competitive advantage to property managers who leverage them.

Another potential element of an integrated technology solution includes online purchasing of commercial building MRO supplies, which ensures corporate-wide standardization for those items and integrated spend management. In addition, procure-to-pay systems can eliminate paper invoices and reduce the money needed to store, sort and mail printed invoices. The routing and synchronization with various accounts payable systems across an organization that arises from centralized invoice processing cuts invoice handling cycle times and costs and enforces consistent processes.

Put everything together, and the benefits of an integrated, business-wide system become clear: better-informed decision-making and immediate access to a broad spectrum of relevant information. The strategic payoff: risk mitigation and competitive advantage arising from cost savings, efficiency and economies of scale, and effective portfolio management and growth potential.

Users of an integrated property management software system validate its benefits. “A principal benefit of a unified system is getting answers quickly and being able to discern, in real time, what the good and bad business decisions are,” said David Hott, CIO of the commercial and residential real estate owner/manager Legacy Partners. “It’s also highly efficient to have one point of entry, without having to reload data from one platform into another or hiring extra staff to do that.”

Ken Kalman, Director of Information Services for the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., added, “Our centralized system allows us to extract data for clients who might want two hundred general ledger accounts, for example. Along with portfolio-wide information, we can access repair and maintenance information at the building level when we need it.”

Real estate technology has fully matured as a strategic element of a business plan, providing superior service, risk reduction, business-wide visibility and many other benefits. Fully integrated systems with capabilities that were virtually unthinkable even 30 years ago are now within easy reach. Companies are well positioned to achieve their strategic priorities across the full real estate lifecycle for their entire portfolio. By adopting integrated technologies, commercial real estate business leaders can reap the rewards of a more efficient, agile and competitive enterprise.

Trade Media Contact: Joel Nelson 805.699-2040, ext. 1255